Discard to décor
Karen Brennan sees purpose, beauty in junk
By Kristin Bates
Photos by Tatum McWatters
With a passion for repurposing and a barn full of architectural, antique and industrial salvage, Karen Brennan, a mechanical engineer and master picker, started Deer Creek Junk in East Jordan in 2003.
At first, Brennan’s curious creations could be found at consignment shops and the occasional barn sale. In the last five years, Brennan’s love of junking has transformed into her own “brick and mortar” barn as well as The House Next Door, a fully repurposed home where everything is for sale, even the kitchen sink!
“Working with reclaimed items is not just about the transformation but it’s also about styling and staging,” said Brennan. “The House Next Door project was a fun challenge and acts as a wonderful showcase to highlight the whimsy of the overall mix. It’s exciting to say it has inspired a few projects for local, rental cottages in the area. Deer Creek Junk will be providing fun décor and staging with the vacation rental experience in mind.”
Like the projects themselves, the business has evolved over the years. Initially, everything offered for sale was “finished.” Now, however, with the current market, the salvage is very popular for DIY projects.
“Any junker knows you can pick up interesting items faster than you can repurpose them. I want to continue to work with clients on custom pieces, including commercial projects for restaurants and stores. Make sure to stop into Deer Creek Junk. We are happy to inspire you with our creative brilliance,” added Brennan.
Deer Creek Junk
320 State St.
East Jordan, Michigan 49727
Karen Brennan’s 10 tips to ‘Live with the Junk you Love’
Almost everything is more interesting when displayed as a collection. Think beyond just similar objects and include groupings of color, shape, texture, or theme. Often, everyday objects make the best collectibles.
2. Artifacts as Art
Some reclaimed items, especially architectural salvage, are beautiful just as they are and don’t need to be repurposed. Make a statement and display it as you would a piece of artwork. Group items together and make a collage.
3. Frame It
Even the most ordinary item can become extraordinary when an empty frame is placed around it. Find an object that makes you smile, mount it on the wall and hang a frame around it. Try nesting a frame inside another frame.
4. Turn It Upside Down
It helps you forget what the object is and visualize what it could be.
5. Give It Feet or Legs
This works for items big and small ... make it a pedestal, tray, or table.
6. Make It Functional
Almost every piece in your home can be reclaimed or repurposed. Tables, shelves, cupboards, headboards and lighting are all opportunities to express creativity and showcase a piece of salvage you fell in love with.
7. Embrace the Patina
Age and wear create a one-of-a-kind finish. Protect it with a clear coat of polyurethane and enjoy.
8. Love the Rust
Rust has a beautiful patina all of its own that deepens with clear coat. It combines great with glass, wood, chippy paint and especially flowers.
9. Transforming Junk Makes More Junk
When disassembling something for repurposing, always remember to look at the cast off pile of pieces and parts. You will often find something to inspire another project.
10. Inspiration is Everywhere
Look around you, brainstorm with friends and unleash your inner junker.
Written By By Kristin Bates with photos by Tatum McWatters